GT
Thursday, Jun 7 07:45pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

SsangYong graduates Andrew and Shepherd join MIKE Racing

MIKE Racing will expand to a three-car outfit for round two of the ENEOS North Island Endurance Series.

 

The team will field two FIA GT3-specification Mercedes-Benz AMG SLS’ and a sole Porsche 911 997 GT3 Cup car that Elliot Andrew and Rowan Shepherd will drive.

 

South Auckland’s Pukekohe Park will play host to the One and Three Hour Series next weekend, where all three of the MIKE Racing cars will contest the longer race.

 

Andrew and Shepherd are aiming to contest the remaining two rounds of the North Island Endurance Series before a possible stint in the Carter’s Tyres South Island Endurance Series.

 

It’s not the first time the two have raced alongside each other having contested the SsangYong Racing Series one-hour together in 2017.

 

On top of previous SsangYong Racing Series campaigns, Shepherd has also contested Formula First and tested a Toyota Racing Series FT40.

 

Today gave Andrew and Shepherd their first opportunity to properly test the Porsche they’ll race next weekend.

 

For Shepherd, it’s the first time he’s driven a sports car in anger.  

 

“It was a huge eye opener for me,” Shepherd told velocitynews.co.nz.

 

“For one, to drive on slicks is a huge thing for me and a big change up. Then to drive something with a bit of downforce also throws a spanner in the works.

 

“There’s so much to take on board for the first day. This track is all about dedicating yourself to a whole lap every time.

 

“At the moment I’m nowhere near that and it’s just a matter of getting more time in the seat, but I think we’ll have some good pace between us.”

 

Andrew comes back to the North Island Endurance Series having previously driven for Trass Family Motorsport. He last drove their Ferrari F430 Challenge to victory at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park in 2016, but since then hasn’t had much racing activity.

 

Andrew and Shepherd won the last time they raced together in the SsangYong Racing Series. With that in mind, he said he wants to bring that form into next weekend.

 

“It’s a good feeling; that’s for sure,” he said.

 

“I’m looking to carry on some of that success into what we can do here in the endurance series.

 

“We’ve got a pretty good package with MIKE Racing and the car that we’ve got. We should be pretty competitive. We’re not here just to make up the numbers.

 

“We’ve been given an awesome opportunity and have had some generous support from people to get us here so.

 

“The number one spot is finishing in first, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

 

With the car being a fully-fledged GT3 Cup car, it’s likely they’ll slot into the GT-B division.

 

They’ll face stiff competition with the likes of the Nick Chester/Cameron Jones ex-V8 Supercar Holden Commodore VZ in the mix and the Simon Evans/Chris Hanley VF racing for class honours too.

 

With more drivers coming in the series and tougher competition on the cards, the pair knows it’ll be a hard slog to get onto the top step of the podium.

 

A new challenge Shepherd will face is traffic. Having raced in one-make series before, it’ll be the first time he’s had to deal with much faster and slower cars around him.

 

“I haven’t had anything like that before. It’ll be busy with cars catching me and me catching others. It’ll be pretty hectic.”

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